Thursday, January 27, 2011

Jimmer Fredette, No. 9 BYU Hand No. 4 San Diego State First Loss

Jimmer Fredette finally got his big stage and didn't disappoint.

Scoring 40 points against Utah or Colorado State is one thing. Dropping 43 against the 4th-ranked and previously undefeated San Diego State Aztecs in a 71-58 decision is quite another.

Brigham Young (20-1, 6-0 Mountain West) got one of the biggest regular season wins in school history when the No. 9 Cougars, 5-point favorites entering the game, rode the back of Fredette and made believers of many who may have been skeptical prior to Wednesday night's showdown in front of more than 22,000 -- including a reported 24 NBA scouts -- at BYU's Marriott Center.

Fredette knocked down 14 of his 24 shots and needed almost every one of them as much of BYU's offense struggled against the Aztecs. Only sophomore center Brandon Davies (14 points) had more than six for the Cougars. SDSU (20-1, 5-1) was paced by sophomore sensation Kawhi Leonard, fighting flu-like symptoms before the game, with a 22-point, 15-rebound effort.

How It Was Won: The easy explanation would be to look at Fredette's 43-point scoring outburst. The real story, though, is the defense BYU played against a very efficient Aztec squad. SDSU shot a paltry 35.5 percent overall and just 25 percent from 3-point range as BYU's defense more than compensated for its non-Jimmer offensive struggles.

How It Was Lost: SDSU can look no further for an excuse for falling from the ranks of the unbeaten than the nearly nine minutes without a field goal in the second half. After playing BYU to an effective draw for about 25 minutes, the Aztecs went cold, and the Cougars pushed their lead to double digits.

Key Stat: That Jimmer guy and his buddy Davies combined to make 20 of 32 shots. The rest of the BYU team made only 5 of 24. BYU's bench scored just four points. Still, Fredette's best home game ever was plenty.

Where to From Here: San Diego State will undoubtedly fall a little bit in the polls. The Aztecs host Wyoming Saturday, and Leonard should be over whatever bug he picked up prior to the game. The rematch in San Diego comes February 26.

BYU will celebrate but has a tough matchup waiting Saturday when the Cougars travel to New Mexico to face the Lobos. Coach Dave Rose's high-tempo offense will need a lot more help if they expect to continue this amazing run.

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